HC Deb 08 March 1960 vol 619 cc228-9
28. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent he estimates farmers' rents have increased since the passing of the Agriculture Act, which made provisions for landlords to increase such grants.

Mr. Leburn

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind Section 2 of the Agriculture Act, 1958, which came into effect on 1st August, 1958.

A sample inquiry covering 1,155 farms suggests that changes in rent occurred on only 8 per cent. of tenanted farms between the second half of 1958 and the second half of 1959, and that the average increase in rent on these farms was about 61 per cent.

As there was no change in the remaining 92 per cent. the overall effect was an average increase of about 5 per cent.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware tht his figures confirm the protest of a well-known Conservative farmer in Ayrshire, who is vice-chairman of the Ayrshire County Council, who has said that farms are being let to new tenants at more than 50 per cent.? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this same gentleman, who is a recognised agricultural authority, says that this represents an increase of a 1d. per gallon on the price of milk which will ultimately have to be paid by the consumer? Is it to be that the Scottish public will have to pay 1d. per gallon more for milk in order to give a subsidy to the landlords?

Mr. Leburn

I should like to confirm the arithmetic put forward by the hon. Gentleman before committing myself.

Mr. Manuel

It is correct.